CALL7: Laradon Hall Memo Contradicts Director's Statements

Executive Director Now Claims Gov't Funding Used For Intended Purposes

The CALL7 Investigators obtained an internal memo from the executive director of Laradon Hall that contradicts many of the statements he made during an on-camera interview.

Laradon Hall is in northwest Denver and was started in 1948 as an alternative school for people with developmental disabilities. According to its website, there are more than 650 participants in Laradon programs and services, and the school has been successful for decades.

Laradon Hall has a $10 million annual budget and about 92 percent of that money comes from state and federal taxes -- the rest from donors.

The memo from Laradon Hall Executive Director Frank Lucero, dated Feb. 18, did not deny any of the issues raised by the CALL7 Investigation but reads: "Laradon's stakeholders can be assured that the government funding we receive is used for its intended purposes."

That statement directly contradicts Lucero's on-camera interview with CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia in which Ferrugia pointed out that Laradon spent $200,000 to $300,000 renovating the management areas while boilers in at least one of the client buildings did not work properly.

"If I said to you there are people who believe that you spent money on the management areas here, but [developmentally disabled] clients went wanting, would you understand why they feel that way?" Ferrugia asked Lucero.

"Oh, absolutely. It wasn't supposed to be that way," said Lucero, explaining that it should not have been management first, "but it was."

But, again contradicting Lucero's on-camera admissions, the Feb. 18 memo told stakeholders, "We are proactive with our upkeep and repair of our buildings and take great pride in making certain that our campus is well maintained."

Read Laradon Hall Executive Director Frank Lucero's memo

The CALL7 Investigation -- aired five days before the memo was issued -- also raised questions about the purchase of Broncos season tickets, a $2,200 dinner for the board and more than $1,500 to attend golf tournaments.

In the on-camera interview, Lucero said, "Broncos tickets? I'm saying we're not going to buy them next year. Golf tournaments? If you want to play in it, they can pay for it themselves. Dinners? We certainly won't have another one, unless I take [the board] out and I pay for it out of my pocket, which certainly I can do."

Despite Lucero's admission in the on-camera interview that money should not have been spent in such ways, his memo to stakeholders reads, "I do want to reassure you that the information presented in the report was not objective and is truly not the way Laradon operates!"

But, on-camera, when Ferrugia asked Lucero, "Do you think it's productive or important for us to bring this to you?" Lucero replied, "Absolutely. Changes have to be made. Changes will be made."

Lucero continued, "Were there errors? Yes there were. Can I eat them? Absolutely. Should I? You're damn right I should."

Calls to Frank Lucero made Tuesday have not been returned.

This isn’t the first time Laradon has faced ethical questions. Westword's Alan Prendergast reported on a 2008 incident in which Laradon Hall received an envelope from a man with instructions that it not be opened until Laradon heard from the coroner.

According to the report, Laradon officials ignored the instructions and opened the envelope. Inside was a check and information leading one to believe the donor was contemplating suicide.

According to Prendergast, Laradon officials put the check in their safe and did not contact police. About a week later, the man was found dead.

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